The “party of war” in the Kremlin believes that the “special operation” has failed. What can she offer in return – says military expert Yuri Fedorov

If Ukraine does not receive multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from the United States in the near future, the situation in Donbas will become “even more difficult for it than it is now,” Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on May 25 in Davos. “Without such weapons, the Ukrainian military will not be able to begin the liberation of Kherson, and as long as Russia holds this territory, it will continue to terrorize the disloyal local population,” Kuleba said. Earlier, Politico suggested that the United States was in no hurry to provide Ukraine with long-range American MLRS for fear that the Kremlin would regard this as an excessive escalation.

The Russian army achieved its first results in the battle for Donbass two months after it began: after several breakthroughs in the Ukrainian defense, it is trying to encircle a large group in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region. Without heavy weapons, the Ukrainian army is not capable of a counteroffensive, a military-political expert believes Yuri Fedorov (Prague).

“Without such weapons, the counteroffensive will only lead to extremely heavy losses of personnel, and the goals will not be achieved,” the expert explains. – This explains to some extent the alarming tone of the statements and [советника главы офиса президента Украины] Aleksey Arestovich, and Mr. Kuleba, and other leaders and people close to the leadership of Ukraine.

The second point, which has already begun to be discussed in Ukraine and not only in Ukraine in sufficient detail and alarmingly, is the difference in the approaches of some Western countries to what kind of assistance should be provided to Ukraine and in what quantity. On the one hand, the United States, Great Britain, Poland, and the Baltic countries quite clearly and resolutely support the provision of the maximum possible assistance. At the end of last week in the United States, decisions were finally made on the supply of multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine, but of a certain modification.

It is impossible to achieve a military victory over Ukraine in the current conditions

At the same time, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a very interesting political statement, proposing the creation of a military-political and economic bloc in addition to NATO, including Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, possibly Turkey and the UK. This is a very interesting and important statement, which at the same time indicates that not everything is so simple in the Western camp. Because Germany is a very powerful and influential force that advocates the reduction of military support to Ukraine, including in Germany, the process of providing military assistance to Ukraine is actually blocked. Yes, some financial assistance is being provided, humanitarian aid is being provided, apparently, some dual-use goods are being provided. But about the heavy weapons that are needed for the counteroffensive, in Berlin they prefer to remain silent for the time being.

Such unsettling divisions in the Western camp will allow Russia, allow the Kremlin, allow Putin to do his favorite thing – namely driving wedges between various political opponents, between Europe and the US. But for this, in my opinion, you need to look at the statements of some German politicians, political scientists and their French colleagues, who are beginning to think about what will happen in Europe after the war and whether it is worth striving for Ukraine to win.

“Yes,” they say, “the defeat of Ukraine must not be allowed.” And this is understandable: in the event of the defeat of Ukraine, [следующей] the victims will be Poland and the Baltic countries. “This should not be allowed,” they say, “but Ukraine’s victories should not be allowed either.” Why? Because then the security system in Europe can really change. That is why people in Berlin and Paris are beginning to say: “Yes, first of all, a diplomatic solution is needed.” But what is a diplomatic solution? This question is still open.

– Igor Strelkov (Girkin), the GRU man who commanded the capture of Sloviansk in 2014, says that the “special operation” in Ukraine has completely failed. Why does a person directly connected to the Kremlin make such statements?

– It seems to me that in the ruling circles of Russia there are serious disagreements regarding the following. Why did Russia fail to achieve decisive successes in the first weeks of the war, when it came to seizing the whole of Ukraine, creating a “quisling” [оккупационного] government and the gradual takeover of Ukraine, and now what to do?

Girkin publicly criticizes very sharply including Vladimir Putin. For such tricks, a person who does not have serious support in law enforcement systems, primarily in the departments responsible for security, would have been instantly either imprisoned, or simply liquidated with the help of Novichok, or hit with a brick on the head in the entrance. But he is allowed to say it nonetheless. And this means that in Russia there is a serious opposition from the right – this is such a militant opposition to Putin, which criticizes him for his lack of decisiveness in the war with Ukraine, including in order to achieve victory over Ukraine.

Now many competent specialists, and Girkin is a fairly competent specialist in military terms, understand that it is impossible to achieve a military victory over Ukraine in the current conditions. Yes, some kind of compromise solution is possible, as they believe, but this is not a decisive victory. And Girkin directly speaks of failure. And I think he is right about something. Because indeed the operation, by and large, failed.

Broken Russian equipment in the Kyiv region, May 23, 2022

The question facing the Russian nomenklatura, before the highest circles, is this: what’s next? Okay, failed. So? And then there are different options. The first is to somehow try to make peace with the West, to find a compromise in relations with Ukraine. What it will be – no one can say for sure yet. And others say that we need to take advantage of this situation, create new, more powerful and modern armed forces. It is necessary to suppress at the same time all the liberal opposition or liberal circles in Russia that prevent this victory from being achieved.

We are talking about taking the entire political system and the government of the Russian Federation under the control of the security services. Because there is a struggle between different circles. And so, based on the fact that Russia has not achieved success, blame the liberal “fifth column” for the complete or partial defeat of Russia, subject it to mass repressions and come to power. At the same time, Putin’s fate may be different.

– The other day, Meduza wrote that the Kremlin is once again discussing plans for an attack on Kyiv. Can they discuss it at all?

– It seems to me that this offensive is rather an informational sabotage, because the ruling circles and Russian propaganda in general are trying with all their might to spread panic in society and the ruling class of Ukraine. After all, they also talk about a nuclear strike, they say that Belarus is about to enter the war, that some forces are concentrating on the northern borders and there will be an attack on Kyiv.

Naturally, the Ukrainian media also report this. Naturally, this causes concern in Ukrainian society. We see that before May 9 there were very panicky moods: “What if Putin decides to strike Kyiv with a nuclear weapon?” All this, of course, complicates the conduct of military operations and creates unnecessary difficulties for the political leadership of Ukraine.

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